Grendel’s Laundry List: Book Pile

january 2013 book pile

What are you reading?

As you can see above, I feed my reading jones with books from the local library. The Louisville Free Public Library is a relatively venerable institution, founded in 1871, but it keeps up with the times. In 1950 LFPL opened its own FM radio station, WFPL, now the local public radio outlet and NPR affiliate, and of course these days it is online as a dot org. The catalog interface is quite serviceable; since I am enough of Luddite to still want the heft and feel of a book in my hands as I read, I use my laptop or smartphone to find titles and authors, and reserve them for pick up with a click. I lose the serendipity of finding books I wasn’t looking for wandering in the stacks, but it beats chapping my thumbs dewey-decimaling through index cards in those long, unwieldy drawers of yore. You kids who’ve never even seen a card catalog much less used one can get the hell off my lawn.

Those of you who can remember when libraries still had card catalogs instead of keyboards and screens, do you think any libraries still keep those cabinets stored in some florescent lit dungeon, against the day the grid fails?

7 responses to “Grendel’s Laundry List: Book Pile

  1. Edge of the Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality by Mabel Dodge Luhan

    Deliberate Prose by Allen Ginsberg

    The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

    The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

    Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

    Blood Meridian (still) by Cormac McCarthy

  2. I want that _Reading Rilke_/Gass title. Will hunt for it. Trying to appreciate fiction lately. Never was big on it in early life. Did a season of sci-fi and a season of noir (Chandler, Hammett), Tried to keep up with the lit fic names. Otherwise it was all poetry & criticism, biography, eastern philosophy, environmental screeds, quantum physics …

  3. From about third grade onward I resisted going to school. Was truant a lot of the time – MOST of the time starting in seventh grade. Got out of my whole sophomore year. We finally solved this by placing me in convent boarding school for my senior year – which I fled halfway through. But during all those delicious truant hours I was either doing dada at the L.A. County Museum of Art or sitting in the big downtown central L.A. public library, which was like a great Masonic temple with an Egyptian pyramid theme, Wyeth-esque murals inside. I’d forage for reading matter, go to the AV room and sit wearing headphones listening to LPs of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while studying everything I wanted to know, which was everything. These days our remote funds-starved local library carries variations on a theme of Tom Clancy and that’s about it. All my spare time these days is spent setting up a Friends of the Library bookshop in a vacant wing of the building. Fun.

  4. I’m grateful to be living in a town that has a decent public library. The libraries available to me as a kid were all suburban branches but I loved them nonetheless. When I finally got access to university libraries I haunted the stacks.

    Mabel Dodge Luhan was an interesting person. I have a book not by but about her somewhere. Back in the early eighties I was passing through northern New Mexico by motorcycle and I followed a sign to the tomb of D.H. and Frieda Lawrence up in the foothills a little north and west of Taos. It’s behind a little house that belonged to Mabel that Frieda lived in after D.H. died, if I remember aright. After I paid my respects (I was a huge Lawrence fan at the time) I toddled down into Taos and visited a little hotel that had some paintings by Lawrence on display. This was all thirty years ago, so I have no idea whether any of that stuff is still there. Had a 35mm Pentax, took pictures, but the camera, prints and film are all long gone too.

    I read a huge amount of fiction in my teens and twenties, but somehow lost interest in most fiction by the time I hit my mid-thirties. Not sure why.

  5. Gass gets kind of precious at times but I find him an ally in sussing out the perplexities of Rilke, both in thought and language. I took three years of German in High School, but it’s awful rusty and I was not a diligent student in the first place. I spent more time dancing during German Club outings to Ernie’s Polka Palace in El Reno than I did studying. Yet I think one needs to know at least a little Deutsch in order to get the flavor of Rilke, even with a translation.

  6. Uh, youse ‘lectuals an yer readin lists puts me to shame.
    A good high stack o’ books, tho, might be just the thing for
    pressing ‘Pugnicans.

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